IT administrators that have JBoss Inc.'s J2EE application servers running on Windows in their enterprises can look forward to better integration thanks to the surprising co-mingling of unlikely bedfellows.
Microsoft and JBoss on Tuesday said they would work together to improve interoperability between Windows Server software and the JBoss Enterprise Middleware System (JEMS).
JBoss makes one of the most popular Java 2 Platform Enterprise Edition (J2EE) servers. The software is written for Java and has components for hosting Web applications. Naturally, it is a competitor of Microsoft's .NET. Within Windows there are a lot of management and security features that JBoss does not leverage natively.
"[Both companies] are insuring that Windows administrators can more effectively use the server by integrating their technologies," said Richard Monson-Haefel, a senior analyst at Burton Group, a Midvale, Utah, consulting firm.
Another analyst suggested that JBoss deserves credit for bridging the gap between Windows and Java. "They are putting resources where their customers are," said John Rymer, a vice president at Forrester Research Inc., in Cambridge, Mass.
Rymer said customers want to access their Java J2EE servers from Windows front office systems. Web services is the stock method that customers are told to use, which is fine, but there is a deeper level of interoperability they are looking for. "If vendors don't address it, then customers have to address it in their projects, and that's not what they want to do," Rymer said.
Roughly 50% of the JBoss installed base runs on Windows Server, according to Bill Hilf, director of platform technology strategy at Microsoft. The alliance with JBoss is not an endorsement of Java but recognition that both companies have a shared customer footprint, he said.
"There is a lot of opportunity in the Windows environment to make it more interoperable," Hilf added. "Our motivation behind this is when ISVs take better advantage of the Microsoft ecosystem, there is a better growth trajectory on Windows. It's good for both."
Initially, the companies will focus on identity management. During the next 12 months or so, architects and developers from JBoss and Microsoft will convene in Redmond and plan how to move forward architecturally, Hilf said.
Initial areas of focus are Active Directory, with regard to integrated sign-on and federated identity; Web services, relating to the WS Web Services architecture, management, including a management pack for Microsoft Operations Manager, and SQL Server, with attention on better performance for users of Hibernate, JBoss object/relational mapping technology and Enterprise JavaBeans 3.0.
Customers that use Microsoft's management products, like MOM and Systems Management Server, plus SQL Server, and that run Active Directory, can offer a shared management infrastructure with a JBoss server. Allowing for single-sign on is also a possibility, Hilf said.
Some developers may find Microsoft's and JBoss's relationship surprising, since JBoss is the epitome of open source, said Burton Group's Monson-Haefel. "Those with 'religious' affiliations will be upset, but this is good for the entire community. It means that another piece of the application pie will work that much better."